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Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival: An Event that Never Refuses to Reuse

Originating as a Spanish outpost in the early 17th Century, Santa Fe’s storied history and diverse collection of cultural attractions make it one of New Mexico’s top destinations. The oldest capital city in the United States is home to the Santa Fe Plaza which features decorative landscaping, shops, restaurants, public events, and The Governor's Palace (oldest public building in the lower 48 states.) From the New Mexico Museum of Art to the numerous galleries in the Railyard District, Santa Fe is the ideal location for art appreciation.


The Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival is the oldest recycled material art market in America, and it will take place November 17-19 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The festivities begin with the fan favorite Trash Fashion and Costume Contest, which features costumes and outfits made from at least 75% recycled or reused materials. Attendees will encounter more than 100 artists and vendors selling and displaying a spectrum of artistic creations made with discarded materials. From collages to jewelry, attendees will have little trouble finding unique items to purchase. Participating artists can also submit their unique creations into Student and Adult Juried Art Exhibitions, with prizes going to the top three finishers in each category. Cowgirl Barbeque (popular local restaurant) will serve a variety of foods and refreshments including coffee, soda, BBQ, burgers, and more. We interviewed event representative, Sarah Pierpont, to learn more about this one-of-a-kind celebration of art.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

SP: The Recycle Santa Fe Art Market is a family-friendly event ideal for all ages and backgrounds.


RAL: What makes this event unique?  

SP: We're the oldest recycled-material art market in the country and the biggest (according to my research). Artists come from across the county to sell their art at our event!


All art consists of a minimum of 75% recycled materials. Artists successfully upcycle trash into treasure, combining recycling and innovation to show creative ways to save our resources, while making unique art. The event demonstrates the resourcefulness of the artists and has grown into a powerful economic development tool for existing and emerging artists.  


We also host a Recycled Material Exchange, which links artists with individuals that donate unwanted items. We do this via our website, but for the first time this year, we hosted a Recycled Art Material Exchange collection event.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

SP: The Trash Fashion and Costume contest is open to anyone. If anyone would like to participate, the deadline is November 10th, and it's free to enter. If people have any questions, they can visit our website. The art market is open from 5:00-9:00 pm on Friday with the trash fashion show starting at 7:00 pm. After 9:00 pm, we move the stage and chairs from the fashion show and bring in 20 more art market booths. On Saturday and Sunday, the art market boasts nearly 90 vendors all selling art made from discarded materials. There is also a gallery-style exhibit featuring adults and students. All schools in Santa Fe are invited to participate (both private and public), and we get approximately 50 entries each year. The work presented is fantastic! There's also make-and-take art activities on Saturday and Sunday, plus a recycling game run by volunteers for kids. I ask our artists to clean out their studios and bring the supplies to make and take.


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?  

SP: We have local musicians on Saturday and Sunday playing as they wander the aisles.


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

SP: Cowgirl Barbeque (a local favorite) will be on hand with great foods, coffee, tea, and more. They'll serve dinner on Friday night, and breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Prices are about $10 per meal, so it's very affordable.  


RAL: Tell us about the atmosphere?  

SP: Our event is community-based, family friendly, and a part of the land of "enchantment" and the "city different" (NM and Santa Fe taglines respectively). We have recycled apparel like jewelry made from discarded materials, but also gallery-worthy art. It's a great holiday gift buying opportunity that supports local artists.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?

SP: Yes, the Eldorado Hotel in downtown Santa Fe is offering discounted rooms for patrons of the Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival. The Sage Inn is also offering discounted rooms for our attendees.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?  

SP: Yes, we've received tax funding in the past to help promote the show within the region. Attendees not only spend money at our event but also at a variety of businesses around the community.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

SP: Santa Fe gets a lot of general tourism, but the show is a great way to get to know the real Santa Fe. The event is just blocks away from the historic plaza and all of its tourist attractions.   The event shows Santa Fe from a local perspective during a beautiful time of year that is less crowded than peak tourist seasons.

For more information about Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival, please visit the event website.